Full disclosure: I’m a major walnut lover. I keep a huge mason jar full of them in my freezer at all times (which keeps them fresh longer than in the pantry.) A handful of satisfyingly nutty and nutrient-dense walnuts is my go-to snack on a week day afternoon. So, when California Walnuts reached out about partnering on some recipes this summer, I was excited to get in the kitchen and get creative with my favorite nut. We’re kicking it off today with an easy olive oil cake recipe, featuring tons of ground walnuts, honey, and citrus. It’s a simple, special snacking cake for an afternoon treat or a sweet morning ritual paired with a cup of coffee. Read on to see how this Walnut and Honey Olive Oil Cake comes together, and grab the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
So, what’s a snacking cake?
I’ve been really into the concept of “snacking cakes” ever since I got Yossi Arefi’s cookbook called (unsurprisingly) Snacking Cakes: Simple Treats for Anytime Cravings. According to Arefi, snacking cakes are single-layered cakes that are made with little effort, and ingredients likely sitting in your cupboard. Typically, they’re adorned simply, with a glaze, or a dollop of whipped cream, or, in the case of this easy olive oil cake recipe, a few candied oranges. They’re comfort food at its finest—enjoyed in a quiet moment with yourself or to pull out of the oven when friends come over.
Can you use ground nuts in place of flour?
As a general rule-of-thumb when baking, you can replace up to half of the flour a recipe calls for with finely ground nuts with no issues. (You can sub even more, but in order to make sure cake holds together, you’ll need to make a few other alterations to the recipe.)
Years ago, I took some classes at the Culinary Institute of America, and one of the instructors taught us how to make the most delicious cake using 100% ground walnuts instead of flour. I’ve made that recipe for years, and especially love pulling it out for friends who have gluten intolerance since it’s naturally gluten-free.
In this easy olive oil cake recipe, I wanted to achieve the light, fluffy texture that flour provides while using ground walnuts to enhance the flavor and make the cake more nutrient-rich, so I used half flour and half walnut, and the results were perfect.
What makes walnuts the omega-3 ALA nut?
On to our starring ingredient: the walnuts that infuse every bite of this cake with luxuriously nutty flavor. Fun fact: 99% of all the walnuts grown in the country are from California! And they’re the only tree nut with an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 ALA fatty acid (2.5g per 1oz), which is great for your heart and overall wellness. You can read more about the nutritional benefits of walnuts as well as the scientific research that has been conducted around the heart-health benefits of walnuts.
How do you toast walnuts?
I love California walnuts in their natural raw state, but especially for baked goods, toasting them brings out a nuttiness and crunch that is so delicious. Here’s how I toast nuts:
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Spread out your walnuts on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 7 minutes, until the walnuts just begin to turn golden. If you can smell the toastiness coming from the oven, pull them out right away before they burn.
- Immediately transfer to a plate to stop the baking.
What’s the best way to store walnuts?
Walnuts should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for optimum freshness. I love to toast them and store in a mason jar in my freezer—when I need a snack, a small handful is enough to reenergize and satisfy me. And it’s no surprise they’re so satiating: did you know that one ounce of walnuts includes 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 45mg of magnesium? We’ve talked many times on the site about how important protein, fiber, and good fats are for stabilizing blood sugar and keeping you fuller longer, so it’s no surprise that walnuts are my super snack.
Scroll on for the easy olive oil cake recipe with walnuts and citrus, and don’t forget to tag us on Instagram if you give it a try.
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- 1 cup toasted walnuts
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup honey
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 cup thinly sliced oranges or clementines
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
For the glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon orange juice
- Preheat oven to 325. Lightly oil sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan. Place a parchment circle in bottom of pan and lightly oil parchment. Dust with flour and shake off excess. Set pan aside.
- Measure out your cup of flour, then to a food processor, add a couple tablespoons of the flour and the walnuts. Grind to the texture of coarse sand (you don’t want it to become a paste!) Add the rest of the flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse a couple times to mix, then set aside.
- Using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff. With a rubber spatula, transfer the whites to a separate bowl.
- Put egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Beat in yogurt, vanilla extract and orange zest, then slowly add the flour mixture at low speed.
- With mixture running on low, add olive oil and beat for a minute or so to combine. Using a rubber spatula, quickly fold in the reserved beaten egg whites in 2 batches. Scrape batter into prepared cake pan, put pan on a baking sheet and place in oven on middle shelf. Bake for 45 - 55 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
- Make glaze: whisk together ingredients. Add a few drops of water if needed, to thin.
- Make candied oranges: bring orange slices, water, and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on parchment paper.
- When the cake is ready, cool in the pan on a rack, then invert onto a cake plate. Top with candied oranges and glaze, slice and eat!
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